Monday, July 24, 2006

(almost) Stranded in PT

After I left Fort Worden/Goddard MFAW-west Bootcamp at noon on Saturday, my writer/photographer/dog-lover/coffee drinker/friend Deby who lives a bit south on the Pacific shore drove up to meet me later in the day. We spent Saturday strolling through Port Townsend, eating Thai Food and drinking lattes. On Sunday we ventured out to Port Angeles for the Art show on the City Pier to take in sand sculpture and crafts, eat roasted nuts and drink water. It was 85 in the shade - exceptionally warm for this part of the country.

As we pulled back into the Admiralty View Guest Studio where we were staying, her 1994 Land Rover began to steam. She opened the hood to reveal the overflow tank spewing antifreeze. My 1995 Volvo Wagon repeatedly surprises me with similar problems so I recognized the dazed look on Deby's face as we watched the toxic green liquid gush onto the gravel drive.

This morning a friendly tow-truck driver hauled Rover, Deby, and I to Frank's Automotive where he diagnosed a crack in the plastic overflow thingie. Our amazing co-host, Bob (of Admiralty View), stopped by at Frank's to see how we were doing and chatted with us while Frank tracked down the part by phone. Bob left only after hearing that we could nurse the car back to the guest studio and after offering to patch the tank with some boat epoxy.

Frank looked so sad as he told us he couldn't get the overflow tank until Wednesday. My flight leaves Seattle (a two-hour and thirty minute ferry/drive from Port Townsend) at 10AM tomorrow (Tuesday) morning and Deby was scheduled to take me. Frank refused to charge us anything and advised Deby to keep filling the thing with water in order to get it home.

By this time it was almost 1:00PM and Deby and I headed to the co-op for lunch and to figure out how to get me to my flight in Seattle. I ate my tuna sandwich and Deby sipped her smoothie under one of the co-op gazebos. Neither of us spoke. It was hot. We were tired. I was pretty sure I'd missed any shuttles that could have taken me to Seattle today and I feared tomorrow's shuttle would leave too late to make my flight.

In the three days since I'd left Fort Worden, I hadn't seen a single person who'd been there with me. I so longed to be back on "campus" where I could simply walk over to Building 205 and ask someone what to do.

As I was day dreaming, I looked up to see Erin, the Goddard-West Program Director/Liason, walk past. I thought she was a mirage. But when I called, "Erin?" she turned around. She gave me the confused look I give people when I see someone I'm sure that I know, but I'm not certain from which part of my world.

Her face cleared. "Nita!" she said. "How are you?"

"Intensely glad to see you."

Deby and I bombarded Erin with questions. When are the shuttles? Are there rental cars? When is the ferry? How far is it? Is there a bus? What's the fastest way back to Deby's town? and on and on until we determined that, in order to nurse her car back home, Deby would have to drive very close to one of the ferries anyway. She could drop me at the ferry and I could catch an easy taxi to the airport. No problem-o. We thanked "Angel" Erin and nursed the Rover back to the guest studio.

Now I'm sitting up at the table looking out over Admiralty Inlet watching the ships sail past. Deby, Bob, and Carol are down on the "dock" (a deck he has fashioned to look like a little dock) drinking tea and watching the waves while they wait for the epoxy on Deby's overflow tank to dry.

It's not the excitement we had planned, but it's been a great adventure just the same. Everyone is so helpful, so friendly. Bob. Carol. Erin. Frank. I'm amazed at the small-town feel and the way folks reached out to two strangers.

No one can tell me that human nature is inherently selfish. Loving-kindness is alive and well in Port Townsend and I'm sure its heart is beating elsewhere as well.

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